The USS Anchorage (LSD-36) was an amphibious dock landing ship in the U.S. Navy, commissioned in 1969. The Anchorage included harmful asbestos in her construction. Asbestos puts sailors and officers at risk of exposure to fibers and of developing devastating asbestos illnesses many years after active service.
What Navy Ships Had Asbestos?
The USS Anchorage was just one of many Navy vessels constructed with asbestos materials. Most ships built between the 1930s and 1970s used asbestos in hundreds of components.
Asbestos on Navy ships was used primarily to insulate equipment, pipes, and parts. It could be found in everything from boilers and torpedo rooms to gaskets and valves.
About the USS Anchorage
The Anchorage displaced more than 14,000 tons when fully loaded and was 553 feet long. She was powered by two boilers and propelled by two turbines and two propellers.
This heat-generating equipment was one primary reason for having asbestos onboard. It had to be well insulated. The Anchorage carried 24 officers and 300 enlisted men and women.
The primary purpose of the Anchorage and her sister ships was to carry landing craft to supplement those carried by the LPD class of vessels. The LPDs were able to carry more men but fewer landing craft.
The Anchorage ships were larger than earlier ships but were similar in design. The Anchorage earned several awards for active service, including the Vietnam Service Medal, the Navy Unit Commendation, the Navy Expeditionary Medal, and the Kuwait Liberation Medal, among many others.
Construction and Repairs
The USS Anchorage was laid down on March 14, 1967, and launched on May 5, 1968. Ingalls Shipbuilding built her in Pascagoula, Mississippi. She was commissioned on March 15, 1969, under the command of Captain Percy Stuart Beaman at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia.
She was constructed to launch a large landing craft and shelter small watercraft during amphibious landings. The ship carried modest weapons as well.
For shakedown training, the Anchorage was sent to her home port of San Diego and conducted training up and down the California coast. Over the years, she underwent several repairs and modernizing upgrades, including in 1972, 1976, 1982, and 1996. Repairs were conducted in various locations, with significant upgrades occurring in San Diego.
Service History of the USS Anchorage
The USS Anchorage served in the U.S. Navy for over thirty years, including active service in the Vietnam War and during Operation Desert Storm and Operation Southern Watch in the Persian Gulf.
- Her first of nineteen deployments to the western Pacific began immediately after post-shakedown repairs.
- Tours during the Vietnam War would earn the Anchorage six battle stars. As the war ended, she carried Marines back to the U.S. and participated in Operation Frequent Wind, which evacuated thousands of civilians from Saigon.
- Throughout the late 1970s and the 1980s, the Anchorage served in various Pacific and Indian Oceans operations. She also participated in training exercises, Marine transport, and other events, such as visiting her namesake city Anchorage, Alaska. It wasn’t until the early 1990s that the Anchorage would again deploy for active service.
- In 1991 she was sent to the Middle East to serve in Operation Desert Storm, supporting Kuwait against an invasion by Iraq. She also served in Operation Continue Hope in Somalia in 1994 and Operation Southern Watch in the Persian Gulf in 1996.
- In 2000 she assisted the USS Cole after that ship was bombed in the waters off Yemen. The Anchorage participated in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan before being sent back to San Diego to be decommissioned in 2003. She was sunk as a target during training in 2010.
How Was Asbestos Used on the USS Anchorage?
Asbestos is a natural but harmful mineral long prized for its ability to insulate and fireproof materials and ships. It was also used because of its light weight, flexibility, and strength.
It was an important component in vessels of all types for decades, including U.S. Navy ships like the USS Anchorage. Asbestos was used to insulate many components, like pipes, turbines, and boilers.
Other uses for asbestos on the USS Anchorage included:
- Fireproofing materials
- Firefighting and gunner gear
- Flooring materials
- Ceiling materials
- Pipe insulation
Who Was at Risk of Exposure to Asbestos on the USS Anchorage?
If any material with asbestos breaks down — from age and wear and tear, from repairs, accidents, and damage — the tiny fibers come loose and enter the air.
Anyone in the vicinity can inhale or ingest those fibers. In some people exposed in this way, the fibers will cause enough damage to lead to illness decades later.
The Anchorage was dangerous for the men and women serving on them because the fibers of asbestos could come loose. Compounding the issue is the lack of ventilation and the enclosed spaces on ships.
Anyone serving on the Anchorage could have been exposed to asbestos, but some were at greater risk:
- Anyone who worked in the engine, boiler, or pump rooms
- Those who made repairs or performed maintenance on components, such as insulated pipes that contained asbestos
- Firefighters and gunners who worked with asbestos gear
- Also at increased risk were the workers who constructed the ship or made repairs and upgrades in shipyards
How Did Asbestos on the USS Anchorage Harm Veterans?
Veterans who inhaled asbestos fibers on ships like the Anchorage were at risk of getting sick decades later. Some later received diagnoses of pleural plaques, mesothelioma, asbestosis, or lung cancer. These are just some examples:
- This veteran’s claim for U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits recorded how asbestos on the Anchorage affected him later. He reported working as a fireman on the ship and being exposed to asbestos. He then claimed to have developed asbestosis later.
- In another claim, a veteran reported having developed an asbestos-related respiratory illness after working as an electrician in the engine room on the USS Anchorage. Electrical systems were often insulated with asbestos.
Benefits and Compensation for Anchorage Veterans
The veterans who served on ships like the Anchorage were put at serious risk of developing mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, and other respiratory illnesses. These veterans can make claims with the VA for disability compensation. They can also seek specialist medical care at VA facilities.
If you or a loved one served in the Navy and now have mesothelioma, a Veteran Service Officer or asbestos attorney can help. Making a claim can be complicated, but these experts will walk you through the process and help you get the best outcome.
A mesothelioma lawyer can also help veterans like you take legal action against private companies. Many companies that supplied asbestos to the military have been identified. Veterans can sue them for damages. If the companies went bankrupt, you can file a claim with an asbestos trust fund that one or more of the companies set up to compensate victims.
Your service came with sacrifices, which might include asbestos illnesses. If you have a diagnosis, contact a mesothelioma or asbestos law firm soon before you risk the statute of limitations running out.Get Your FREE Mesothelioma Packet
Page Written by Mary Ellen Ellis
Mary Ellen Ellis has been the head writer and editor for Mesothelioma.net since 2016. With hundreds of mesothelioma and asbestos articles to her credit, she is one of the most experienced writers on these topics. Her degrees and background in science and education help her explain complicated medical topics for a wider audience. Mary Ellen takes pride in providing her readers with the critical information they need following a diagnosis of an asbestos-related illness.
Page Edited by Patient Advocate Dave Foster
Dave has been a mesothelioma Patient Advocate for over 10 years. He consistently attends all major national and international mesothelioma meetings. In doing so, he is able to stay on top of the latest treatments, clinical trials, and research results. He also personally meets with mesothelioma patients and their families and connects them with the best medical specialists and legal representatives available.